The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
Sunday, 22 July 2001

Small Arms Conference Adopts "Program of Action"

I warmly welcome the adoption of the inaugural international document - the Program of Action - aimed at combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.  The illicit small arms trade has devastating humanitarian, economic and social consequences in many regions of the world.

The Program of Action was adopted at the United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects on 21 July.  It establishes a series of political commitments and practical measures for countries to draw on in combating small arms problems at the national, regional and international levels.  The Program of Action includes recommendations on managing stockpiles, marking and tracing small arms, export controls, destruction of surplus stocks, and transparency.  Participants also agreed to concrete follow-up measures to support and build on the implementation of the Program of Action in the future.

Australia contributed to the negotiations by drawing on our national experience in the development of firearms legislation, and regional experience in the safe management and custody of weapons.  The Program of Action will serve as a springboard for future national, regional and international activities to help curb the illicit small arms trade.

Australia has played a leading role in addressing the effects of the illicit small arms trade, particularly in our region.  In May this year, Australia hosted a Pacific Islands Small Arms Workshop in Brisbane to provide regional legislators, law enforcement officers and customs officials with practical advice on controlling the movement of small arms and to help them develop model legislation.  This event complemented Australia's long-standing efforts to support and fund regional projects to improve regional security, through post-conflict reconstruction and the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants.

Media inquiries:
Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500
Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

FA110/2001


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